Conquering the horror stretch



Anton ‘The Barefoot Dutchman’ Nootenboom was warned time and time again as he made his way south to Mackay.

‘Have you heard about the Marlborough stretch?’ They’d all ask. Then they’d go on to explain that it’s 200-odd kilometres of nothingness from Sarina to Rockhampton. No towns, no farms, no people.

The region has an intriguingly dark history, and truckies all have their own stories about ‘The Horror Stretch’.

Anton, who continues his Guinness World Record barefoot walk from Cairns to Manly beach, even talked about his trepidation leading up to it, when North Shore Living last spoke with him.

But now, in late July, having conquered the notorious highway and returned to civilization in Rockhampton, he admits it was actually exactly what he needed.

“For so much of my trip, there has been a lot going on and to have all that time to myself just allowed me to get my own head right again,” he says.

Anton’s trolley has broken down too many times to remember, he has battled on with severe bone bruising in his feet, and sleep deprivation from camping on the side of the bustling Bruce Highway has taken its toll too. 

He is also missing his girlfriend, dog, and friends on the Northern Beaches, and simple pleasures such as walking from Queenscliff to Shelly Beach.

But for the first time in a long time, Anton is feeling really good about his progress.
“I feel like I’m going up the mountain now but when I get to halfway, it will be all downhill from there.

“I’ll be able to make that switch in my thinking to, ‘I’m on the way home’.”

Another reason for his ‘renewed energy’ has been the response to his 1km Barefoot Challenge. It has gone viral on social media in support of him and his cause. 

People from the Northern Beaches as far as the Netherlands, France and Canada are taking off their shoes and going for a long walk outdoors to help spread the message that men need to speak up when they’re struggling and look out for their mates.

He encourages everyone reading this to get involved.

Simply share a photo or video of the walk or your feet on Instagram or Facebook; use #1kbarefootchallenge; mention @thebarefootdutchman, so he can see your support and share it, and challenge three mates to do the same by tagging them.

More than spreading awareness, it’s also about raising funds for local not-for-profits Gotcha4Life and Tomorrow Man. So, donate if you can!  

Be sure to visit and our North Shore Buy, Sell, Swap and Connect Facebook page for regular updates on The Barefoot Dutchman. North Shore Living is a proud media partner and supporter of this campaign. 

Joe McDonough, Editor-in-Chief, Peninsula Living Magazine

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